Thursday, September 21, 2017

September Update: Stats, The New Plan, and Waxing Philosophical

Starting with stats last time was fun. I think I will do that again.

First, word count updates:
  • Words written so far in September: 18,874
  • Words written so far this year: 93,606
  • Words written so far on SoM: 50,072

I ended up writing over 20k words in August. I got 6k more words written on SoM before the month ended. I finally hit 50k on SoM. My minimum goal before October was to hit 50k, and I waited to update this blog until I hit that point. Now every day I write, I'm that much closer to halfway. It's unlikely I'll actually hit 60k unless I have an epic week (which, who knows, I very well might). I would have to write 1,000 words a day just on SoM to hit it. I've been working on other things, including a Cafe story and a brainstorm for my upcoming NaNo novel. I dunno. It's do-able. But I'm not going to kill myself for it. I'm really happy with my progress, so anything beyond this point is gravy.

Here's an update on where I'm at with literary agent queries:

  • Partial requests: 2
  • Rejections: 33
  • Closed (no response): 20
  • Outstanding: 3
The partials are at 104 and 63 days, respectively. I have no idea when/if I will ever hear back from either of those. I will probably nudge the 104-day one when it hits 120 days, and it sounds like the 63-day one is behind because of traveling but is looking at partials requested from about a month before mine at this point. I'm really hoping to hear back from both of those before the end of the year, because there's a very well-respected small press that will be open to unagented manuscripts during November and December. I really want to submit to them, so fingers crossed I have answers on all my queries by then. That may mean that I don't send it to that one last agent on my list (she opened to queries early, I'm so mad about that), but that's ok. Of the last three outstanding queries, I expect to hear back from one in about two weeks and one in about a month. The last one I may never hear from and will therefore close out at 90 days. Oh. I did get a 119-day rejection on one of the submissions I had closed out.

So that's where I'm at as far as stats.

Here's where I'm at as far as my plan. I will throw my book at two or three publishing companies (two if I don't make the Angry Robot open door window). That will probably take most of next year. I know Tor and DAW both take like, six months or something like that, and they are exclusive, so you can only send to one at a time.

But I think that's the only submission I will be doing next year.

It took a lot of reflection and at least three months' worth of this writing blog to realize...that I need to take next year off and just focus on writing and editing. I want to spend a year without the distraction of submission to just write more books and clean up existing books. It may well be the very last year to just be creative with no pressure to do more.

And then, if all of the agents and all of the publishers have rejected MoL, I will spend 2019 finding editors and cover designers and will begin the self-publication process. I should have enough saved to edit and cover all three books. And then, I will begin to release them in 2020.

I will have a release every other month, putting out the whole trilogy in one year, with short stories between them. The shorts will be about my supporting dudes--a Makai story that's already written (although it's only 4k now, so I might work to stretch it out to 5k) and a Shane story that goes between books two and three--and then at the end of the year, collect them all and put out a box set.

In the two years it takes me to write, edit, and prepare the Huntress trilogy for publication, I'll focus on writing books two and three of Druid Wars. That way, in 2021, I will follow the same formula and put out the Druid Wars trilogy, with shorts in between (one being a story I wrote for the Cafe that I will probably tweak). Hopefully by then, I will have a reliable editor and cover artist so I won't have to wait too long to get stuff back from them.

And then, in the year that those are going out, I will work on writing books two and three of Pandemonium. Hopefully I'll get book one cleaned up in my year of writing and editing next year. And then starting in 2022, I might....MIGHT...release book one and then start releasing a season of Sally Prescott between each book. If I write two to three adventures of SP a year, I should be well into season three, if not finished with season three by then. The idea behind that is to have more time to write the Pandemonium books by putting out other stuff I've already written. But, hey, if things go well, maybe I can follow the same formula with that series instead (I already have an idea for one of the shorts), and potentially just release two seasons of SP a year and then put out the SP novel. I dunno, though. Three years of Sally Prescott without anything else might be a bit much. I might have to ask my mentor (Rachel!!) what she thinks.

And after that? Who knows. That's five years of doing a new NaNo novel every year, so I will, in theory, have other worlds to choose from.

Although this year, I'm using NaNo to get out of my comfort zone to write something that's magical realism instead of urban fantasy. And it'll probably be stand-alone. So. Erm. I dunno where that fits, or if it'll even be a decent book that I can publish.

Anyway. As I've mentioned, I want to keep doing NaNo every year so I have a month to do something fun and outside of the box. Without the pressure of it having to fit into my regular genres or be marketable. Although of all the agent MSWL I've read, many of them want the next Practical Magic, so hey, maybe I'll get an agent based on this book I have yet to write. Or maybe it'll go under my pseudonym. Or maybe it'll go in the trunk. Regardless, I am planning to have fun with it. It's all witchy and October and kind of grown-up and literary. I want to spend lots of words describing things about fall and evoke some feelings and...I dunno. I want to be a middle-aged woman, I guess.

That has been a worry of mine lately. Am I getting out of my New Adult, fantasy setting type novels? I hope not. I'm kind of relying on writing at least four series in that genre over the next ten years. And I had always planned on going back to Fractured Worlds in my 40s, when I feel like I might be better able to build other fantasy worlds. I can't be done with fantasy yet, can I?

And the answer to that is probably no. But I've outgrown a lot of my new adult angst. I've mostly accepted Mom's passing. I've mostly gotten past relationship drama and very intense young person ideas of love. The kinds of things that appealed to me when in was in my 20s doesn't necessarily resonate with me anymore. That doesn't mean I can't still write it. I probably will.

But maybe the next five years' worth of NaNo will be my chance to explore more adult, middle-aged issues. Maybe my protagonist in this year's NaNo will actually be married instead of just having a girlfriend. Or maybe not. But I want her in an established, healthy, supportive relationship. An adult relationship where they learn about things and each other together. It's a journey they go through as a couple, experiencing everything along the way. She's not discovering her sexuality or falling in love, she just is in love and is a lesbian, and that's part of the story but not what the plot is.

Anyway. That was a serious TL;DR tangent.

I waxed philosophical.

Back on track, now.

Yeah. I made a schedule for my self-publication. It's a bit aggressive. It relies on me being able to write about 200k a year. I may not be able to maintain that. Although I did find out at work today that I can drop to 32 hours and still be considered full time. I could actually take Fridays off and still get full benefits. I wouldn't get the eight hours of pay, and that would add up, but. If I was making a supplemental income from selling books, I could maybe afford to take that extra day to write or do freelance editing. It's something to consider. And I am in a workplace that I think would entertain the idea. But in two or three years...I may not even have this job anymore, depending on funding. So. I can't rely on that eventuality. Also, if Jack ends up quitting his job to go back to school, we might need me to work full time and publish books to make do.

So yeah. Lots of things to think about, but I'm not going to worry about any of them now. Having given myself next year to just write and edit has really taken a great load off. I have been super productive since then.

And while part of me may want to query Druid Wars next year, I may not do it officially. I may do Twitter pitches and throw it at one or two of my top agents, but probably not. It's hard to not jump in fully after dipping your toe in the water.

Seriously. Querying is like gambling. It's addictive.

I'm gonna wrap this up, now. The big takeaways from this month are that I'm still waiting on agents, I have made great progress on book three, and I may even get my fifth Cafe story for the year turned in.

Oh, that is one last thing I was thinking about. I may drop down to only three stories next year instead of six. I'll keep it running, but I mostly want to write things I can monetize eventually. Although putting out a short story collection might be a nice way to fill gaps in my publication schedule...

Haha. Ok. Really am done now.

Until October!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

August Update: Stats and Plans

I'm going to start this entry with some stats, just for funsies.

First, some word count updates:
  • Words written so far in August: 14,005
  • Words written so far this year: 68,684
  • Words written so far on SoM: 30,362

So that's coming along.

I even wrote a Cafe story this month, so I've now written four stories for the Cafe so far. Only two more to meet my goal for the year.

Here's an update on where I'm at with literary agent queries:
  • Partial requests: 2
  • Rejections: 31
  • Closed (no response): 21
  • Outstanding: 5

The longest I've waited for a response so far was 82 days. The fasted was two days. I've closed a couple out at 121 days, but mostly I close them between 60-80 days. It's been 76 days since the request for 100 pages and 35 days since the request for the first 10 pages.

I expect to be waiting on the partials for at least another 1-3 months.

I still have one more I want to query when she opens in October, and that will make 60.

After that, I have some decisions to make.

Or rather, I've made some decisions already, but after all that, we'll see if they stick.

One thing I've been worried about the whole time querying MoL is that it's too long. It's too long for the genre and too long for a debut author. A rejection I received yesterday confirmed that.

And while I know all that is arbitrary, and if an agent truly loves the project and my writing, word count is something they will either overlook or plan on working with me to pare down. But I've thought more than once that it might be what's keeping me from finding an agent for this book.

I just keep coming back to the fact that this book was the book of my heart. Yes, I could cut it down to meet some arbitrary industry standard. Truth is--and call me a diva for this--but I don't want to. For better or worse, it is what I want it to be. Everything I left in I felt was important to the plot or the larger world or series.

So maybe I don't debut with this novel. Maybe I debut with something else. Maybe, once I've gotten a "no" or gotten no response from all 60 agents, I trunk it. Trunk the whole series. Not forever. Maybe just until I write a few more books in different worlds that are shorter or don't have vampires or whatever else they keep passing on it for. Maybe when I have some fans, maybe an agent, I can say, hey, any interest in this complete trilogy with series potential? It may not be a best-selling series, but it might make us a few extra bucks. And they can be like, sure, we liked your shorter stuff. Let's see how this longer stuff does. Or if they don't want to take the chance, then I'll self-publish it.

And maybe they're right. Maybe it's too long. Maybe people won't read it. Maybe Emily and Aron and the girls and Jack are the only ones who will ever actually like it because they know me and they know Lawrence.

But I can't see having three books finished and ready for a professional editor as ever being a bad thing.

So. My goal for the next couple of months is to get as much of SoM written as I can. I know after NaNo I'll lose momentum and it might not get finished until next year. But. If I can leave it at 50k-60k, at least I'll have a solid foundation to work from. My first goal was to get it to 30k. It's harder to walk away from something that big. If I can double that in the next month or two, I will feel ok about setting it aside for NaNo and the holidays.

And hell, if I hit November 1 and it's still going like it has been the last week (I had a 4k day today and a 2k day a couple days ago and a couple 1.5k days before that...although I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that most of the month, I had mostly zero days and a few 250-word days), I may not want to stop. I may skip NaNo and my Something New to finish this up. And that's ok, too.

But I've learned my fucking lesson with this. No more 125k-word books. At least not that I want to query.

Although Druid Wars 1, my next big project I plan on querying, is too short, coming in at less than 70k. Oiy. I just can't win, here. Online Dating for Demons I think is even shorter (although I have plans to beef it up in the dev edit).

Why can't I just write the books I want to write and tell them in however many words they need to be told in?

I guess I can if I self-publish. Yet another compelling reason to skip traditional publishing completely.

That being said, I may not revisit the self-publishing idea for another year or two. I don't have to do this all now or even next year. I can take my time.

That's kind of been the theme of the last few updates.

I've got time.

I just need to relax and just write.

I still have over three years to reach my goal. I'm only 36. And hey, if it takes until I'm 41 or 45 or even 50, so be it. There's no rush. The longer I wait, the more I have ready to publish.

So just relax and write. And keep writing.

No matter what, just keep writing. That's the only part that really matters in all of this.

Friday, July 21, 2017

July Update: Ups and Downs

It's been something of a rough month.

I finally settled in and wrote a bit on Scions of Mythos after my last post. About 3,500 words. Then I started Camp with a strong 1,500 words on the first day. Then I went on vacation mode and didn't do anything. Then I had five amazing days of writing...wordcount-wise, anyway. The story just wasn't moving. Things still felt broken and I couldn't get into the story. I felt like I was going through the motions. There was no excitement. No love for what I was creating.

So, I spent about a week not writing. And feeling terrible about not writing. I finally sat down one day and did a bunch of brainstorming. Part of my issue was figuring out what order do things happen in. So I did a projected outline for a couple of different ways, and what would cause things to happen that way. And I really had to look at what the heart of this book would be. And I figured some stuff out. I still didn't write for a few more days, but stuff percolated in my mind. And then I had a few productive writing days.

Sadly, it's not enough to save Camp NaNo. I had to lower my wordcount goal. Which kills me a little bit. I still can't shake the feeling that I'm so far behind on writing this book.

But it comes when it comes. My writing friends keep reminding me of that.

And it's been hard to get motivated to write in general, if I'm completely honest. I've been wondering what the point is a lot lately. After the initial rush of an agent asking for a partial manuscript, a string of rejections made me lose hope again. I'm down to sixteen outstanding queries, and a majority of those I will probably never hear back about. I've amassed 29 rejections and closed out eight more. Soon to be ten.

Actually, yesterday I was about to close out one--one I really was sad about, because he sounded amazing and reps a lot of my favorite authors--and then I got an email from him.

My book sounds intriguing to him, and he'd like to read the first chapter.

There may have been some jumping up and down and screaming followed by hugging my poor puppy who had no idea what was going on with her human.

That's two, friends. Two agents....two out of my top five agencies...who have shown interest in my book.

It's affirming in a lot of ways. I had resigned myself to the one agent being kind of a one-off. Not necessarily a fluke, but maybe more just like dumb luck. But now there's another one! And the second agent had a one-page plot synopsis as well as the query. So it's good to know that that's ok. I never even had anyone look at it.

Two huge agents from hugely respected agencies. My query, my synopsis, my book...they don't suck! I'm really, really happy.

And it's amazing what that happiness can do for someone's muse. Don't get me wrong. It was distracting. Even knowing it was unrealistic, I checked my email a dozen times after sending my pages to see if he'd gotten back to me yet. Hah.

The thing is, I had gotten to a point where I was like, I have maybe two fans plus my writing group. It's hard to motivate myself to write a book just for my brother and sister. I don't necessarily have to write it. I already know how it ends. I know who lives and who dies. I know how everyone's stories resolve. I'm not writing it for the sheer discovery of it.

But thankfully that changed yesterday. I let go and just settled into the story, and scenes I hadn't expected came out. I'm not moving my characters from point A to point B hoping they'll do what I want them to do. They're doing their own things. It's nice. It's a thing I love about writing.

So. I'm only 16,000 words--about five chapters--into the book. But it's finally coming alive. And while I may be "behind" or more accurately, not as far as I wish I was, it's ok. I've got all the time in the world.

I'd like to be done with it before November so I can write something new for NaNo and then take a break for a month or two, but even if I don't, it's ok.

I may not even know if these two agents want my book in six months, so there really is no hurry to self-publish. As long as all three books are written and at least first draft edited by the end of next year, I'll still be in good shape. For whatever happens.

Also, one more little tangent. I stalled out on my adventure novella series earlier this year. I was suffering from lack of planning and my character's lack of agency. So I put the episode I was working on away. The other day, I went back and read over the episode before the one I'm working on, and it was really good! Like, I surprised myself a little. The ending was a little rushed, but I know it was because I was anxious to get it done and move on.

I feel good about that series again. I know the first two adventures are a little rough still, but I'm not sure how to fix them. But after that, they are great. I really hope that someday I can put them out in the world. Hell, if I end up with an agent, I can pitch the series and maybe they can help tweak the first two adventures. Although I kind of wonder if those won't probably always be just for me. They're slowly amassing. I have the first season done out of five. But I only get maybe two done a year, so it's still a long time before I can do anything with them. I always said I had to have the first two seasons done before publishing, but I think I need to plan on having at least three seasons done. The publishing plan there is to release two seasons a year, so unless I increase my pace, I'd need five years to write the last two seasons.

Now, if I could write a season a year, three seasons would be enough of a bank. That'd be a year and a half. Trouble is, a season is basically a whole second book a year. I already determined that I'm hard-pressed to write more than one book a year in addition to starting a new NaNo project.

So for now, I just toy with it between projects to clear the palate and have some fun. It's back-burner for now, until I'm done with Scions of Mythos.

If ever.

Ugh.

Becoming a published writer is such a slow process. Even self-publishing is limited to how much product I can produce and if I can get into editors and find cover artists. I really, really want an agent to help me find a publisher so I can mostly just focus on writing and promoting and working my day-job for awhile longer.

Oh, in other news...and I can't remember if I mentioned this con or not, but the Midwest Reader Con I was going to help run in October has been canceled. The woman running it is having some family and health issues. I'm sad, in a way, but also relieved. I really don't want to be front and center in a convention again until I have a book out.

Last but not least, I should have another editing project or two over the next couple of months. Kevin is finally done the second book in his Village Alchemist series (YAY!!), and I might be editing another anthology for Sean with Pine Float Press. I truly do love editing, so I'm looking forward to both. Rachel won't have anything else for me for a few months yet, but then I should have another Cupid story.

I think that's it for this entry. Hopefully I'll have more news as far as agents by this time next month. I'm guessing most of my news will be more rejections and still waiting on these two agents.

I'm excited, though. The excitement had worn off. I really needed this. I'm beyond delighted. I'd be thrilled to death to be represented by either agent. I feel so lucky to have gotten their interest. They've rekindled my hope.

I think I can do this.

I just need to keep writing.